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All or nothing at all ...

Updated on November 20, 2012

A crisis of epic proportions...

How many news days go by without a new crisis? It used to mean something. Now when our government can't make up its mind about a spending/debt plan, it becomes a new crisis. A crisis is, by definition, "an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending" or "a situation that has reached a critical phase", according to Merriam Webster. Critical. Unstable. Crucial. Aaaaackkk!!! Have we lost our collective minds?


Something really bad is happening or about to happen. Something that is really really bad. New Orleans flooding - that was a crisis. Now the use of the term goes beyond midlife crisis to budget crisis, debt crisis, the housing crisis, the obesity crisis, the nose-picking crisis (okay, I made that one up). But seriously, aren't we now overusing the term? And what happens when everything becomes a crisis? Nothing is a crisis. We've spent all of our emotional and intellectual energy in one crisis after another, and none of them are now more important than any other. We've become a society suffering from the Boy Who Cried Wolf syndrome...

Why is the "yes" guy so mad?
Why is the "yes" guy so mad? | Source

Addicted to extremes

This is a continuation, of sorts, from my Us and Them hub article, which discussed the human tendency to want to continually battle - to perpetually spar with others we don't understand, who are wrong, stupid and ill-informed, evil, manipulative, inspired by the devil ... whatever label we give to "them".

Our language is full of the language of the extreme - of black and white. No blues, reds or greens. No accounting for shades, for mitigating circumstances or nuance. If you're not with me, you're against me. We declare war on everything - on terror, on drugs, on our neighbors. We think it shows strength to pick a side, like we're in the second grade and are choosing teams. Only we don't ever change if we learn that our side may have the facts wrong, or if there's something faulty with our arguments. We want others to come to our side, because it's right, and reject what our enemies say, because they are wrong. We don't have any patience with what they want to say, because they're idiots. In the words of Journey, "Nah-nah-na-nah-nah. Na-nah-na-nah-nah."

It's not like we put a lot of thought or research into "our side". We put our faith in a few opinion-leaders, who do the research for us. So then if they say it - because they are on our side, and our side has no ill-intent, then it's certainly true. And only evil-doers would oppose our clear superiority.

And we have to assign a derogatory name to "them", because those wrong-minded, evil, scoundrels are trying to take our candy, degrade our values, and try to turn our sons and daughters against us.

"This is ridiculous! I can't believe they think this is good work!"

"Are these guys sleeping? My grandmother could do better and she has dementia!"

"It's all part of the [insert here - liberal, fundamentalist, gay, right-wing, etc] agenda!"

These are examples of extreme-thinking. Thinking that is rooted in a belief that the world is out to get us, that no one has a pure intent except me and my cronies. Where this type of behavior was once relegated to the schoolyard of grammar schools, we now accept it as common discourse among "thought leaders", many of whom are simply bullies. The same creeps who would try to take our Twinkies, steal our lunch money and threaten to put us in trash cans. Only now they stage rallies, call what they do a "cause" and spew their filth among crowds of people disadvantaged by a sour economy.

So I submit that extreme thinking - this type of all or nothing attitude - is a form of addiction.

Back to the middle...


Addiction: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. (

Traditionally, the term has been used to describe an uncontrollable habitual use of alcohol or other addictive substances. More recently, the term has been used in relation to unwanted behaviors that are counter to what a person wants or needs, like addictions to sex, gambling, exercise or eating. The nature of an addictive behavior is that it is maladaptive, which is to mean that it is ultimately counter-productive to the person doing it, and continued use continues the individual on a dangerous course. One key element is that removal of the habitual behavior causes a withdrawal, parallel to a substance abuser's withdrawal from the chemical toxicity in his bloodstream once the alcohol or drug is removed. Another is that the individual has to keep doing more and more of the behavior to get the desired effect. It becomes inversely satiated. And, the individual is unable to alter the behavior on his own, so eventually his life spirals out of control.

Balance - outstanding short film!


The truth is that reality exists somewhere in the middle ground. A ground that may feel uneasy or uncomfortable. It may feel ambiguous or uncertain. Even though we know this intellectually, we fight against it, because we want security and certainty. The feeling that when things go bad, we can reach for our mother's or father's hand and have them tell us everything will be alright.

The reality is that we need to think for ourselves. We need to discern, to be responsible for our untamed egos, to know when we are wrong and then to adjust. We need to articulate a well-thought out, intentful, independent course of perception, process and delivery. We need to act like grown-ups. Didn't we all learn this in first grade? Perhaps some of us did, and some did not. Because I'm pretty sure it was about that same time that I learned not to cry wolf when I'm trying to get someone's attention.

Because if this pattern continues, the wolves will devour the flock.

All or nothing at all


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    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      I would love to hear more about your experience in Cuba - I've only heard about it via movies and don't know anyone who experienced it personally. Please do share that - I'd be the first to read and absorb...

    • profile image

      klarawieck 5 years ago

      I do try to avoid all conversations regarding politics, because even though I don't mean to, I have a one-sided view most of the time, given that I was born and raised in a communist country. The few times I've tried to "get with the program" I've gotten so sick listening to the lies from each side that I've given up. I prefer to stay in my safe-zone - musing in all things that are spiritual and artistic. But I will eventually have to write a hub explaining my experience living under Castro's dictatorship, that way I can let others know what it's like without having to give up an entire weekend in the forums butting heads with other hubbers that defend communism while living in capitalistic countries. But that's just me... being a LEO... :D

      I do believe in the whole astrological mambo-jumbo... you Taurus men are hard-headed but what saves you is the fact that you make a lot of sense most of the time. My in-laws are Taurus... and I love them to death.

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      Nope, Taurus. Not sure what I think about astrology. I love that you do that on the threads. I often think of saying something raw and edgy, but then stop myself. Hmm. Wonder what that says about me?

      But honestly, we all do that thing where we let others do our research for us - even if it's just Saturday Night Live! The way I look at it - as long as we know we're getting biased information, and don't take everything at face value. A good internal gauge = balance.

    • profile image

      klarawieck 5 years ago

      You know... this is one of those articles that leaves you thinking - Am I one of those people that take sides on all things? that lets others do the research so that you can agree with them because they're on your side? I gave up on media a long time ago, don't watch much TV, only movies and a few series I like. But yes, you're right. There are a lot of people that don't even have a clue as to why they have such fixed ideals - you'll find them in the forum threads, usually discussing politics and religion... the two NO-NO's. I like to drop a bomb from time to time, say something totally off and watch them go: "huh?" and as it happens sometimes no one else replies - dead thread. :D

      Again, you have a very interesting way of seeing things, a wonderful brain! Are you an aquarius by any chance? :D

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      We're definitely on the same page, yoginijoy...

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Well, I'm glad you published it! It is especially pertinent with all the hoopla going on with it being an election year. I agree with you that as a collective many of us consume (I don't know why) what the media produces. I try to be very mindful of what I consume--not just food, but images as well, language and energy in general. I choose not to consume a lot of TV, violent films, etc.. because as you call it "bombastic egocentric babble" is a waste of precious energy.

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 5 years ago from California

      Great comments! Exactly: No one seems to want to talk about commonalities; I guess it's too boring. Honestly, I get bored by the bombastic egocentric babble - I find it very un-stimulating and childish. I suppose I must be in the minority.

      Yoginijoy: I'm hesitant to blame things on the media, because the media is all of us. We are the media. They produce what we want, we fuel the same with our own sense of the extreme. Your comment about Mother Nature is very interesting - it's like a centering of perspective, isn't it? Like watching the ocean, a reminder of the continuity of the real.

      The funny thing is that I wrote this hub last November, and just noticed I never published it. Don't know why. So I literally just hit "publish" after briefing through it because I felt it was still relevant. Wish I could say otherwise!

      ~ G

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      It does seem that we are living in "crisis" mode. I agree that our over use of language has created this cry that no one is listening too. I find the only voice that we listen to these days, is that of Mother Nature when she slams us with a natural disaster. We have lost the ability and interest to debate with each other. The wolves are all around us, and we have no teeth! Do you find the extremes presented by the media to be at fault?

    • Jackwms profile image

      Jackwms 5 years ago

      I like what I read here, but the videos are just too long and time consuming to watch in conjuncton with the hub. Rather interesting, I was watching the Daily Show with John Stewart this morning (rerun from last night)and was just flabbergasted with the clips he put up of Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, and a couple other right wingers. They were commenting in very bombastic terms about Obamas position on the Supreme Court. They bounced things off each other with no room for opposition or middle ground.